The Faroe Islands lost a frantic encounter to Luxembourg 1-0 at Tórsvøllur to end a 5-match unbeaten record against The Red Lions. And leave the Faroes pointless in Nations League C.
In team news, head coach Håkan Ericson made two changes from the defeat in Turkey last week, with the recovered Meinhard Olsen coming in for Ári Mohr Jónsson on the left wing and Klæmint Olsen replacing Patrik Johannesen on top.
The opening quarter was an even affair, with both sides cancelling each other out. The Faroes created the game’s first clear cut chance when a teasing ball by the impressive Meinhard Olsen was just inches away from finding Klæmint Olsen’s head. Minutes later, Luxembourg’s tricky winger Danel Sinani long distance effort whistled narrowly past Gunnar Nielsen’s goal.
VAR had its first impact on proceedings just before half-time when the dangerous Gerson Rodrigues rounded Nielsen and shot towards an empty goal, with defender Odmar Færø clearing the goal-bound effort with his hand. A clear penalty and red card, that’s until VAR intervened to show Rodrigues was narrowly offside, and a huge cheer akin to a goal went around the 2700-strong Faroese crowd, as the two nations went into the break even Luxembourg just edging proceedings.
A couple of minutes after the restart, Rodrigues hit the post after latching onto a poor Viljormur Davidsen clearance, and shortly after, Nielsen made a stunning save when Rodrigues again was one-to-one with the keeper, as Luxembourgs pressure started to grow.
But the moment that really changed the game’s complexion occurred midway through the second half when René Shaki Joensen received a straight red card after he was judged to have pulled down a clear through Mathias Olesen.
For 10 men to gain a positive result against a superior Luxembourg side looked like a monumental task, and it wasn’t meant to be—as 5 minutes later, the winning goal came courtesy of a Gerson Rodrigues penalty after a lazy Sølvi Vatnhamar tackle on Yvandro Borges Sanches. Initially, the referee waved away the Luxembourg protests until VAR intervened and awarded the spot kick.
Things went from bad to worse for the Faroese players when Sølvi Vatnhamar was sent off for a reckless elbow with 12 minutes left. Against only 9 men, Luxembourg saw out the last play with relative ease, and despite a brave Faroes resurgence, they couldn’t find an equaliser.
A crushing defeat for the Faroes against a nation they have fared so well against in the past, but on the day the best side won, with players like Rodrigues and Sinani a class above the rest.
Here are my player ratings:
1) Gunnar Nielsen: 7/10– Made some important saves, didn’t put a foot wrong.
20) René Shaki Joensen: 3.5/10 — Silly red card to give away after having an impressive opening hour.
15) Odmar Færø: 6.5/10 — Battled hard and gave 100% as always.
13) Hørður Askham: 4.5/10 — A couple of nice interceptions, but also looked shakey on the ball.
3) Viljormur Davidsen: 6.5/10 — Apart from one blot when Rodrigues hit the post from his mistake, he was his usual consistent self.
9) Gilli Rólantsson: 6/10 — Got up the right-hand side with lots of energy and endeavour, without the desired end product.
10) Sølvi Vatnhamar: 2/10 — A night to forget for the Víkingur Gøta man, giving away a silly penalty and idiotic red card.
16) Gunnar Vatnhamar: 5/10 — Fully committed display without much skill tonight.
6) Hallur Hansson (C): 7/10 — In a more advanced role, linked up play well, and looked a decent threat.
18) Meinhard Olsen: 8/10 (MOTM) — Great display from the returning winger; caused problems to the Luxembourg backline all night.
11) Klæmint Olsen: 5/10 — He would have been desperate to break the goal-scoring record at home but hardly got a sniff before being replaced.
5) Sonni Nattestad (for Hørður Askham 60th minute): 4/10 — He was an aerial threat late on, but his wayward pass led to René Shaki Joensen’s red card.
2) Mads Boe Mikkelsen (for Hallur Hansson 78th minute): N/A
17) Hannes Agnarsson (for Klæmint Olsen 78th minute): N/A
22) Jákup Andreasen (for Gunnar Vatnhamar 85th minute): N/A
19) Ári Mohr Jónsson (for Meinhard Olsen 85th minute): N/A
Håkan Ericson: 4/10 — The lack of goals scored is becoming a real concern (1 goal in 4); with yet another goalless display and hardly a chance created, coupled with the poor team discipline, makes it an unforgettable night for the Swede. His reluctance to play any of the triumphant Under-21 squad is also a growing problem. With Sølvi and René missing the next game against Lithuania through suspension, his coaching acumen will be fully tested. If the side doesn’t win, his job will be seriously under pressure.
Luckily for the Faroe Islands, they can put this cutting defeat right on Saturday when they play again at Tórsvøllur against Lithuania. And with both countries sitting at the bottom of the table on 0 points, this is already a relegation 6 pointer.
The Faroe Islands versus Lithuania on June 11th kicks off at 17:00 BST.